Panaysayon: Tales from Panay Island by Christian George Acevedo [book review]

Panaysayon: Tales from Panay Island by Christian George Acevedo, edited by Hazel Joaquin. Published through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Intramuros, Manila. ©2019

Photo from the author

The author of this book has been a guest in the #Humans of the Library series in this blog: Christian George Acevedo. He is a librarian and the current head of Capiz State University Library. This is his first published book, published through a grant from NCCA.

Panaysayon is a collection of 27 folk tales from Panay island, which includes the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Aklan, and Capiz. Some of these tales may be familiar, some are new and a few of them I've never heard before. Every story has a translation to Hiligaynon. The stories are collected from various sources: books, libraries, archives, and interviews. It features different kinds of folk narratives: myths, legends, and folk tales.

Two legends in the book, "Why the sky is high" and "Origin of the first man and woman" are already quite well-known. Since the author is from Capiz, a number of tales are also set in the place. Aside from legends, there are also entertaining fables or tales featuring animals as characters. It covers a wide range of genres and even includes mystery stories ("The Boarder" and "The Spider") and some with a religious theme.

I admit that I have some difficulty reading (and writing) Hiligaynon even if it is my first language. However, in this book, I enjoyed reading the Hiligaynon translations and it really gives the story a different feel. It almost feels like old-school story-telling, and I think the translations would be good spoken aloud in the native tongue. If you are like me who is more used to English and would like to read more on the local language, this book is a good start.

I find that this book can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what your age. I think the book would be ideal for parents or teachers to read to children. Since the tales are already translated, it is also useful for schools teaching or using mother tongue in the curriculum.

I also have to commend the book's designer and layout artist. As a reader, a book's format and readability are important. The art and pictures featured in the pages' design are apt for the stories. The cover featuring an old map of Panay Island is also eye-catching and classic-looking. If you are only judging the book by design alone, it's at par with books from international publishers we see in bookstores.

Panaysayon is intended to be given for free to libraries and schools in Panay. The book is also launching today, March 7, in the Panublion Museum in Roxas City.

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